When students fill out an application to Georgia State, they are prompted to select a major. The selection of this major places the student in a Freshman Learning Community, or FLC, which aligns students with other students within their meta major, or pathway of majors in a similar field of study.
The purpose of the meta major and FLC program is to establish familiarity and networking among students and incorporate concentrated prerequisites into entry-level classes, meaning that a student will experience course material specific to their major.
The program has resulted in slight improvements in both freshman GPAs and retention. However, the program has its disadvantages.
About 80% of college students will change their major in their college careers, which is why the program was established.
But what about the students who go into a different field of study?
If I begin my first year in the STEM pathway, and in my third year, when I would begin taking my upper-level courses, I switched to the social sciences pathway, I would have wasted significant time and money.
More likely than not, a student in this situation wouldn’t graduate on time and would have to spend more money on both entry-level and advanced courses in their new field.
While the program would prove to be beneficial to students who are fully committed to their field of study, the university should keep its indecisive students in mind. The program should be maintained, but there should be better preparation and an alternative.
The university can offer a disclaimer on the application. Each student should be aware of the FLC and all that it would encompass before they register for orientation. At orientation, a detailed description of each course should be provided to each student enrolled in the FLC.
For those enrolled in the FLC, workshops can be offered to allow students to get first-hand experience in the course load and material. Experience can aid the decision-making process before the money is wasted on courses. The workshops can mimic the FLC itself and feature subjects common to a specific pathway.
For students who are still on the fence, the FLC can be offered as an alternative.
On the application, a student can choose if they would like all of their mandatory courses — U.S. history, statistics and other courses required to graduate — first or if they would like to start the FLC, which would include prerequisites to their selected major.
The FLC and meta major programs have proven to help some, but the statistics of improvement aren’t high enough for it to be our only option.
Experience, discoveries, available opportunities and practicality can skew a student’s decision to enter and exit various degree programs, and there isn’t a guarantee that the student will be skewed into a variation of their initial major.
It would be in the best interest of time, money and resources to at least prepare students for this program before we are fifth-year seniors and thousands of dollars deeper in debt.